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Concert Review: The Boston Symphony Orchestra

On February 10th, 2019, Lesley University student reporters Bella Denneno and Andrea Gunnarsdottir were welcomed to the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall by publicist Emily Cotten.  We were provided with the opportunity to witness the full symphony orchestra experience.  Andris Nelsons, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director, was the conductor; and he performed his job impressively.

The intimate atmosphere of Symphony Hall complemented the beautiful music being performed. Prior to having heard any music, we were pleased to appreciate the building’s architecture, as well as listening to the musicians practice individually, in between sets. It was all quite beautifully done; the musicians would practice their pieces, and as the music intensified, their individual pieces would actually come together, complementary with each other. Following this “build-up,” the musicians would then stop playing their instruments; They now had the audience’s attention, and you could hear a pin drop in the enormous room.

As the orchestra began its first number, it was guided by conductor Andris Nelsons; he is the fifteenth music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, having debuted with the BSO at Carnegie Hall back in March of 2011.  As the pamphlet given to us at the door explains, “Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.”

One of the high points of the evening for us was Lisa Batiashvili’s violin play. Batiashvili is a Georgian violinist and was chosen Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year in 2015.  She has a very silky and pleasant sound, and her natural elegance and charisma on stage is remarkable. From the moment she began playing the violin, the audience seemed completely gripped by how skillfully she performed.  The grace of her articulation was proficient, and the brilliance of her playing was remarkably stunning.

It was also very apparent that Andris Nelsons is a phenomenal conductor, and he was directing some of the most sophisticated and talented people in classical music.  We had expected an excellent performance, having read reviews that spoke about the skillful musicians in the BSO; but being there in person to watch them play far exceeded our expectations.

Something that surprised us was the accessible atmosphere of Symphony Hall.  We observed the grand golden ceilings and the expensive instruments, yet the people who came out to see the show seemed to have dressed for the most part business-casual; Overall, we noted a great sense of welcome upon entering, something that we had not expected prior to our visit.  We also noticed that the audience included people from all walks of life; they attended with their families, their partners, their friends.

There is a sense of clarity one has when listening to this orchestra, and the atmosphere of Symphony Hall enhances it– as we sat in such an elegant room, with the perfect lighting and beautiful ceilings, we were impressed at how well the orchestra and the venue combined to create and sustain such a positive experience for the audience.  In fact, every time we looked around, we noticed everyone in attendance seemed just as infatuated with the BSO’s beautiful performance as we were. The impeccably smooth transitions conducted by Nelsons, the outstanding solos, the enthusiasm with which everyone played… it was an unforgettable night for us.

Whether you are a fan of classical music or not, we would definitely recommend experiencing the Boston Symphony Orchestra, especially if you are looking for an introspective night full of beautiful music, further enhanced by the stunning architecture and lighting.  We can easily imagine anyone would have a positive experience watching Andris Nelsons conduct a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance.  Having had the pleasure of seeing the BSO in person, we can attest that these musicians are nothing short of exceptional; their long practice sessions certainly paid off, and their incredible talent resulted in a memorable performance.  All in all, this was a night neither of us will forget.

BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leads the orchestra in Copland’s Third Symphony (Photo by Winslow Townson)

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